Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake Recipe

Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake RecipeMary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake Recipe
Yields: 1 Serving Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 15 Mins Cook Time: 25 Mins Total Time: 40 Mins

If you’re looking for a simple, delicious, and filling meal that can feed a hungry family, you can’t go wrong with Mary Berry’s tuna pasta bake recipe. This dish is one of the most popular recipes from the British TV chef and cookbook author, who is known for her easy and elegant dishes.

Tuna pasta bake is a classic comfort food that can be made with pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients. It’s creamy, cheesy, and packed with protein and carbs. You can customize it with your favorite vegetables, cheese, and herbs. It’s also a great way to use up leftover pasta or tuna.

In this article, I’ll show you how to make Mary Berry’s tuna pasta bake recipe step by step, with tips and tricks to make it perfect every time. You’ll also learn some variations and substitutions you can try to make it your own.

Let’s get started!

What is Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake?

Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake is a comforting, oven-baked casserole that combines the simple goodness of tuna, pasta, cheese, and a creamy sauce. Created by Mary Berry, a renowned British TV chef and cookbook author, this dish is known for its straightforward preparation and satisfying flavors. It features cooked pasta mixed with flaked tuna and sweetcorn, enveloped in a rich cheese sauce, and topped with a golden, bubbly cheese crust.

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Why You Love this Recipe

This recipe is cherished for several reasons:

  • Family-Friendly: It’s a hit with both adults and children, making it perfect for family dinners.
  • Easy to Make: Utilizes pantry staples for a hassle-free cooking experience.
  • Customizable: Can be tailored with various vegetables, cheeses, and herbs.
  • Nutritious: Offers a balanced mix of protein, carbohydrates, and dairy.
  • Versatility: Ideal for using up leftover pasta or tuna.

Ingredients Needed to Make Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake

To make Mary Berry’s tuna pasta bake recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 400 g (14 oz) dried pasta shapes, such as penne, fusilli, or macaroni
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter
  • 50 g (2 oz) plain flour
  • 600 ml (1 pint) milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 200 g (7 oz) cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 x 200 g (7 oz) cans of tuna in spring water, drained and flaked
  • 198 g (7 oz) can of sweetcorn, drained
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 25 g (1 oz) parmesan cheese, grated

Useful Equipment

You’ll also need the following equipment to make this recipe:

  • A large pot
  • A colander
  • A saucepan
  • A whisk
  • A measuring jug
  • A measuring spoon
  • A cheese grater
  • A baking dish
  • A spatula
  • An oven

Instructions to Make Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake

Here are the step by step instructions to make Mary Berry’s tuna pasta bake recipe:

Step 1: Preheat the oven and grease the baking dish

Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan, gas mark 6). Grease a baking dish with some butter or cooking spray. This will prevent the pasta from sticking to the dish and make it easier to serve.

Step 2: Cook the pasta

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, following the package directions, until al dente. This means the pasta should be cooked but still firm to the bite. Drain well and return to the pot. You can use any kind of pasta you like, but make sure to cook it al dente, as it will continue to cook in the oven and you don’t want it to be mushy.

Step 3: Make the cheese sauce

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, to make a roux. This is a thick paste that will help thicken the sauce. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring well to avoid any lumps. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in half of the cheddar cheese until melted. Remove from the heat and set aside. You can also add some mustard, nutmeg, or garlic powder to the cheese sauce for more flavor.

Step 4: Add the tuna, sweetcorn, and parsley to the pasta

Add the tuna, sweetcorn, and parsley to the pasta and toss to combine. You can use canned tuna in spring water, oil, or brine, but make sure to drain and flake it well. You can also use canned salmon, chicken, or ham instead of tuna, or add some cooked bacon, mushrooms, broccoli, or peas to the pasta for extra flavor and texture.

Step 5: Transfer the pasta mixture to the baking dish and pour the cheese sauce over it

Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and make sure to cover it completely. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese and the parmesan cheese on top. You can use any kind of cheese you like, such as mozzarella, gruyere, or fontina, or a mix of different cheeses.

Step 6: Bake the tuna pasta bake

Bake the tuna pasta bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. You can check the doneness by inserting a knife or a fork into the center and seeing if it comes out clean and hot. If the cheese is browning too quickly, you can cover the dish with some foil.

Step 7: Enjoy your tuna pasta bake

Enjoy your tuna pasta bake hot, with a green salad or some crusty bread on the side. You can also garnish it with some more parsley or basil for a fresh touch. This dish can serve 4 to 6 people, depending on the appetite. You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just reheat it in the oven or the microwave before serving.

Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake
Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake

What Do I Serve With Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake?

Enhance this meal with:

  • Green Salad: A fresh salad with a light dressing complements the richness of the pasta bake.
  • Garlic Bread: Perfect for mopping up the creamy sauce.
  • Steamed Vegetables: Such as broccoli or carrots for a healthy side.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Like bell peppers or zucchini for added flavor and texture.
  • Simple Dessert: A light pudding or fruit salad to round off the meal.

Pro Tips to Make Perfect Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake

For the best results:

  • Ingredient Temperature: Bring ingredients like milk and cheese to room temperature before using them in the sauce. This helps to integrate them more smoothly into the roux.
  • Tuna Quality: Opt for good quality canned tuna in spring water for better flavor and less oiliness. Drain it well to avoid excess moisture in the bake.
  • Vegetable Additions: If adding vegetables, sauté them lightly first to remove excess water and concentrate their flavors.
  • Layering Technique: Evenly distribute the tuna, sweetcorn, and pasta mixture before adding the cheese sauce. This ensures a consistent flavor in every bite.
  • Sauce Thickness: The béchamel sauce should be of a pourable yet somewhat thick consistency. If too thin, it won’t set properly in the oven; if too thick, it could make the bake dry.
  • Seasoning Adjustment: Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce before combining it with the pasta. Remember, the cheese will add some saltiness too.
  • Pasta Undercooking: Undercook the pasta slightly less than al dente, as it will absorb moisture from the sauce and continue cooking in the oven.
  • Cheese Topping: For an extra crispy topping, mix breadcrumbs with the grated Parmesan and sprinkle it over the top before baking.
  • Preventing Over-browning: If the top browns too quickly while baking, cover it loosely with foil until the baking is complete.
  • Resting Time: Let the baked pasta rest for a few minutes after removing it from the oven. This helps it set and makes serving easier.

Tuna Pasta Bake Mary Berry

Variations of Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake

Experiment with:

  • Different Proteins: Swap tuna for cooked chicken, salmon, or a vegetarian protein.
  • Pasta Types: Try different shapes or whole-grain pasta for variation.
  • Sauce Flavors: Add mustard, herbs, or spices to the cheese sauce for extra flavor.
  • Vegetable Additions: Incorporate vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, or peas.
  • Cheese Varieties: Experiment with different cheeses like mozzarella, Gouda, or feta.

How Do I Store Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake Leftovers?

Refrigeration Method:

  • Cooling Down: Before storing, let the tuna pasta bake cool to room temperature. This prevents condensation inside the container which can make the pasta soggy.
  • Selecting Containers: Use shallow airtight containers for storage. This helps in maintaining the dish’s moisture and flavor.
  • Storing in the Fridge: Once in the container, the pasta bake can be refrigerated. It will remain fresh and tasty for up to 3 days.

Freezing Method:

  • Preparation for Freezing: If you plan to freeze the leftovers, portion them out into meal-sized servings. This makes it easier to thaw and reheat later.
  • Wrapping for Freezing: Wrap each portion tightly with freezer-safe wrap or aluminum foil. Then, place these wrapped portions in a freezer bag or airtight container.
  • Label and Freeze: Label the containers with the date to keep track of how long they’ve been stored. The tuna pasta bake can be frozen for up to 2 months.

How Do I Reheat Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake Leftovers?

Oven Method (Recommended for Best Texture):

  • Preheating the Oven: Warm your oven to 180°C (160°C fan, gas mark 4). A preheated oven ensures even reheating.
  • Preparation for Reheating: If frozen, thaw the pasta and bake in the refrigerator overnight. Then, transfer it to an oven-safe dish.
  • Covering: Cover the dish with aluminum foil to prevent the top from burning or drying out.
  • Reheating Duration: Place the covered dish in the oven and reheat for 15-20 minutes. If it’s coming from the fridge, it might take less time. Check that it’s heated all the way through before serving.

Microwave Method (Quicker Option):

  • Portioning: If reheating individual servings, place a single portion in a microwave-safe dish.
  • Covering: Cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap. This helps to keep the moisture in and heat the food evenly.
  • Reheating Process: Use medium power to reheat. Start with 1-2 minutes, then stir and check if more time is needed. Continue heating in short intervals until the pasta bake is hot throughout.
  • Caution: Be careful when removing the cover after reheating, as steam can build up and cause burns.

Nutritional Value of Mary Berry Tuna Pasta Bake (Per Serving)

  • Calories: Approximately 400-500 kcal (Varies with portion size and ingredients)
  • Protein: 25-30g
  • Carbohydrates: 45-55g
  • Fat: 15-20g (Varies with cheese and butter content)
  • Fiber: 2-4g
  • Sodium: 500-700 mg (Depends on the amount of salt and cheese used)
  • Calcium: Good source due to cheese and milk
  • Iron: Present due to tuna
  • Vitamins: Contains various vitamins, particularly from the sweetcorn and any added vegetables

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 FAQs

Why Did My Tuna Pasta Bake Turn Out Dry?

A dry tuna pasta bake often results from insufficient sauce or extended baking time. To address this, make sure the béchamel sauce has a fluid consistency to thoroughly coat the pasta. If the bake starts to dry out in the oven, covering it with foil can help retain moisture.

Can I Make Tuna Pasta Bake Creamier?

To enhance the creaminess of your tuna pasta bake, consider enriching your béchamel sauce. Adding extra milk or a touch of cream can increase its creaminess. For added richness, incorporating more cheese into the sauce can also be effective.

How Can I Prevent My Pasta from Becoming Too Soft in the Bake?

Since pasta absorbs liquid and continues to cook in the oven, starting with slightly undercooked pasta can help. Boil it until it’s just under al dente; this way, it retains a firmer texture after baking.

Why Doesn’t My Pasta Bake Have Much Flavor?

A pasta bake lacking in flavor could be due to inadequate seasoning or the use of bland ingredients. To remedy this, make sure to season the pasta water, the béchamel sauce, and the tuna mixture adequately. Experimenting with herbs, spices, or a splash of mustard in the sauce can also introduce more depth of flavor.

Can I Substitute the Pasta Type in Mary Berry’s Tuna Pasta Bake?

Absolutely. While the recipe suggests pasta shapes like penne, fusilli, or macaroni, you can use any type of pasta you have on hand. Just be mindful of cooking times, as different pasta shapes may require slightly different boiling times to reach al dente.

How Can I Make Mary Berry’s Tuna Pasta Bake Gluten-Free?

To make this dish gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta and substitute the plain flour in the béchamel sauce with a gluten-free flour blend. Ensure all other ingredients, like stock or canned products, are gluten-free as well.

Can I Add Other Types of Fish or Seafood to the Tuna Pasta Bake?

Yes, you can diversify this dish by adding other types of fish or seafood. Consider options like salmon, cooked shrimp, or even crab meat. Just ensure that any additional seafood is properly prepared and cooked (if necessary) before adding it to the bake.

How Can I Make the Tuna Pasta Bake Lower in Calories?

For a lower-calorie version, consider using low-fat milk instead of full-fat for the béchamel sauce, reduce the amount of cheese, or use a reduced-fat cheese alternative. Additionally, you can increase the proportion of vegetables like sweetcorn or add other low-calorie veggies to bulk up the dish without adding many calories.

Conclusion

Mary Berry’s tuna pasta bake recipe is a simple and satisfying meal that can be made with pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients. It’s creamy, cheesy, and packed with protein and carbs. You can customize it with your favorite vegetables, cheese, and herbs. It’s also a great way to use up leftover pasta or tuna.

I hope you enjoyed this article and learned how to make Mary Berry’s tuna pasta bake recipe step by step. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Happy cooking!

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